Appalachian Basin

Report: Tightened Ozone Standards Threaten Ohio’s Economy

A new report released this week by the Center for Regulatory Solutions (CRS) finds that if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) goes through with its plan to tighten the ozone standard, new regulatory restrictions would be imposed on a huge majority of Ohio’s economy, causing economic hardship across the state.  As the report explains,

“By lowering the National Ambient Air Quality Standard from 75 parts per billion (ppb) into the 65 to 70 ppb range, the EPA would cause at least 34 counties in Ohio to be in violation of federal law. These are some of Ohio’s most populated counties, concentrated around the Cleveland and Cincinnati metropolitan areas, but a number of Ohio’s rural counties may be dragged into nonattainment as well.  The vast majority of Ohio’s economy, population, and workforce could be caught in the net of ozone nonattainment under the EPA’s proposed range. The 34 impacted counties represent 84 percent of the state’s GDP, 80 percent of the state’s workforce, and 77 percent of the state’s population. (p. 3; emphasis added)

Just to provide a bit of background, if a county doesn’t meet EPA’s new standard, it is considered in “non-attainment” and must comply with additional permitting requirements to start a new business, expand an existing one, or drill an oil or gas well, making economic growth exceedingly difficult.  This new CRS report looks at each one of these counties that would be in non-attainment, noting the economic harm that the tightened standard would cause in these areas.  This would have certainly have significant negative implications for Ohio’s energy industry, which is currently an huge engine for economic growth.  From the report:

“23 of the 34 counties account for 29% of the state’s oil production and 17% of the state’s gas production in 2014; significant emission controls would need to be installed to reduce ozone precursors.” [Emphasis Added] (Executive Summary)

The report interviews Ohioans running businesses, such as Jeff Miller from Ken Miler Supply, who stated,

 “We care deeply about the environment in Ohio. Increasing Air Regulations will further slowdown Ohio Oil and Gas activity without providing air quality benefit. New regulations will diminish activity and investment and make it even more difficult to do business in Ohio.”

The study also highlights a new poll conducted by the National Association of Manufacturing (NAM), which finds that Ohioans overwhelmingly have a high opinion of the quality of their local air. Moreover, the survey found that nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of voters in Ohio rate their local air quality as “Excellent” or “Good.”  Meanwhile, 73 percent of voters think the most important problem for their local area is “less economic growth and job opportunities caused by regulations.” Breaking the numbers down further, the CRS report explains,

“Spelling trouble for the proposed rule, most Ohio voters (55 percent) oppose any additional environmental regulations on businesses, believing these would have negative impacts on the economy through higher taxes (78 percent), higher prices (80 percent), and making it harder to start or grow businesses (69 percent)” (p. 28; emphasis added)

The report summarizes these numbers well, concluding,

“Ohioans are clearly proud of their environment, their economy, and the overall direction of their state. The more they learn about Washington’s ozone agenda and how it could impact their way of life, the more they oppose it.” (p. 38).

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